Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation

A hearing test or evaluation is the first step in determining your hearing capability. If you have a hearing loss, it will detail the extent, type, and specifics of your particular hearing loss. A hearing care professional will perform the hearing evaluation at the practice.

The hearing evaluation consists of a variety of tests to determine the unique aspects of your hearing loss, as well as the level at which you can detect and understand speech. The results of this test will provide the hearing care professional with the details they need to accurately recommend the proper treatment.

What Can You Expect During a Hearing Evaluation?

Whether you have suspected hearing loss, suffer from tinnitus or simply think it’s a good idea to get your ears tested, visiting the audiologist for your first hearing test can be rather scary. However, it’s a far better solution than suffering in silence, which is why you should make the appointment at the earliest stage possible.

The Hearing Care Professional Will Want To Know Your Background

Before even testing your hearing capabilities, the audiologist will want to discover a little more about you. This can help them throughout the examination processes and can provide great insight into the cause of any ear-related issues as well as the best treatment for it.

The audiologist may ask for:

  • Medical history: Even health issues that seem completely unrelated to the ears can cause hearing loss, tinnitus and other problems.
  • Family history: Even when conditions aren’t necessarily hereditary, there are correlations between your hearing health and that of your family’s.
  • Medications: Strangely, some hearing issues, including tinnitus, can be a side effect of taking medication for other issues.
  • Your situation: It is easier for the audiologist to understand your hearing loss when you let them know when the loss is most noticeable.

A little background information goes a long way, make sure you’re prepared.

Inspecting Your Ears

If you thought hearing tests were solely about testing sound frequencies, you were sorely mistaken. The audiologist will wish to complete a physical inspection so that they can spot signs of damage, abnormalities or obstructions.

The audiologist will use an otoscope to look at the inner ear and middle ear while also checking for wax build-ups and infections. Other tests may include checking the reflexes of the eardrum, along with signs of medical conditions that may be influencing your hearing or balance.

The Hearing Care Professional Will Conduct a Series of Examinations

The average hearing test should last between 60-90 minutes. This is enough time for a number of different tests.

A speech test allows the audiologist to see how easily you follow conversations in quiet surroundings before following this up with a test in noisy environments. You’ll be asked to repeat the words and sentences that are spoken to you.

Tone testing measures the frequencies that you can hear. The audiogram will register the highest and lowest pitches that you hear. When there is an issue, this is one of the best ways to determine the severity of hearing loss and will additionally help with finding the right treatment.

Some of the examinations take place in a booth with headsets while others are carried out in the room under normal conditions. There will be no pain during the testing, though, which should hopefully put your mind at ease ahead of visiting the audiologist.

Discussing Your Results

The results from your hearing test will provide the hearing care professional information on what sounds you may be missing or hearing. This will include;

  • Telling you about the type and severity of hearing loss.
  • Informing you of other ear-related issues.
  • Giving you options about the treatments (such as the different hearing aid types).
  • Explain any lifestyle changes that may be needed.
  • Ask whether you have any questions about the diagnosis.

The results of this testing will also allow the hearing care professional to make the best treatment recommendations. This is nothing to worry about. If the results are all clear, you’ll gain peace of mind. And if an issue is found, this is the first step to restoring a sense of normality.

Diagnosis & Recommendation

If your hearing test reveals a permanent hearing loss, hearing aids may be recommended. Your hearing care professional may explain what sounds you have difficulty hearing, and what hearing aids can do to help. It is usually at this appointment that you will get to see and touch different styles of hearing aids. In some cases, you may even be able to try out the hearing aid. Your hearing care professional will help you choose the best hearing aid style, features and level of sophistication based on your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and financial circumstances. Some hobbies and occupations may benefit from different hearing aid styles or features, so your hearing care provider may have you fill out a questionnaire to assist during the evaluation process. The final decision on which hearing aids are purchased is your choice, but your hearing care professional will make recommendations on the best options for your particular needs.

Once you make a decision, the hearing care professional may take impressions of your ears if you select custom hearing aids or behind-the-ear hearing aids that require earmolds. Hearing aids must usually be ordered from a manufacturer and then programmed by your hearing care professional to meet your specific hearing needs. There is an adjustment period when wearing hearing aids, so it’s possible your hearing care provider may make additional changes to your settings to ensure you’re getting the best listening experience possible.

However, even if the hearing tests come back all clear, the audiologist may suggest an annual checkup.

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